Music Week's round-up of the latest album reissues and catalogue releases. This week, we run the rule over releases from The Whispers, Molly Hatchet and a Dancefloor Anthems collection on Crimson/Sony Music
One For The Money/Open Up Your Love/Headlights (Robinsongs ROBIN 32CDD)/Whisper In Your Ear/The Whispers/Imagination (ROBIN 33CDD)
Between 1976 and 1980, The Whispers went from being a moderately successful R&B group to one of the genre’s top attractions, releasing six regular studio albums, which all now join the Robinsongs catalogue split into two double CD sets, with a smattering of bonus tracks. 1976’s One For The Money and 1977’s Open Up Your Love were originally released on the Soul Train label, with the latter in particular a slick set which embraces the then current disco sound via a passably hustling version of Bread’s ponderous Make It With You, and the joyful I Fell In Love Last Night (At The Disco). 1978 set Headlights is the last album on the first release, and finds the group returning to the more sinewy slower funk style of (Let’s Go) All The Way and Children Of Tomorrow, while Disco Melody belies its title by turning out to be a breezy, summery almost jazzy groove. 1979’s Whisper In Your Ear gets the second set off to a solid start but fared very poorly in the US chart at the time despite being their first release on Solar. The group’s eponymous quickfire follow-up, which was also released in 1979, saw them make massive strides and became their most successful album, playing host to the monster hit And The Beat Goes On –a UK No.2 hit – as well as the touching Song For Donny, a tribute to Donny Hathaway who died the previous year; and a lengthy uptempo remake of The Temptations’ hit My Girl. 1980’s Imagination sees the group continuing on a high, and produced another smash hit – It’s A Love Thing – and the funkily smacking follow-up I Can Make It Better alongside half a dozen similarly smart songs.
Dancefloor Anthems (Crimson/Sony Music CRIMCD 617)
If cutting edge credibility and new music is what you seek, pass on this one – but if you’re just looking for a good time, it’s perfect. Dancefloor Anthems is an uninspired title, but this 4 CD, 80 song compilation, which retails for around £5, makes up for that with its contents. Spanning the years 1980 (Use It Up And Wear It Out by Odyssey) to 2014 (Timber by Pitbull feat. Ke$ha), it gets off to a sizzling start with its first three tracks – Another Chance by Roger Sanchez, Waves by Mr. Probz and Call On Me by Eric Prydz – being crossover No.1 hits. Much of what follows is also from the higher reaches of the chart, and includes both extremely familiar fare by serial hitmakers and barely-remembered but worthy entries from artists whose careers burnt brightly but briefly, including Sweden’s September with her terrific 2008 smash Cry For You, which it somewhat redolent of Smalltown Boy; The Real McCoy’s 1992 euro smash Another Night; and Finnish hip-hoppers Bomfunk MC’s 2000 smash Freestyler. Add to that club classics like U Sure Do by Strike, Everybody’s Free by Rozalla and Children by Robert Miles, and it’s clear there are no weak links on an album that is likely to have very wide appeal.
Fall Of The Peacemakers 1980-1985: Take No Prisoners/No Guts…No Glory/The Deed Is Done/Double Trouble Live (HNE Recordings HNEBOX 106)
Named after a murderous prostitute, Molly Hatchet have been peddling their unique and attractive form of Southern rock for nearly 50 years, although the band that trades under their name today contains none of the musicians who were in the group when the albums that make up this new box set were first released in the first half of the 1980s. Formed in 1971, Molly Hatchet finally got their break in 1978 and sold more than 4m copies of the three albums that came immediately before those gathered here, namely the studio sets Take No Prisoners (1981), No Guts…No Glory (1983) and The Deed Is Done (1984) and the 1985 concert set, Double Trouble Live. Tight, incendiary and rousing, their music trod a fine line between hard, southern-style rock and more mainstream pop and rock. These long-deleted albums are given an impressive makeover, being housed in replica sleeves in a clamshell box alongside a booklet packed with illustrations and a 4,000 word essay. The albums themselves are replete with bonus tracks, with Take No Prisoners perhaps providing the best upgrade, with its original 10 tracks being joined by a pair of singles radio edits, a rare collaboration with Ted Nugent and five songs recorded at a festive Lakeland Civic Center Arena on New Year’s Eve 1980.